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Cybercrime

Online Crime Leaves $525 Million Price Tag for Consumers

Crime may not pay, but it definitely costs consumers money – particularly in the world of cybercrime.

Crime may not pay, but it definitely costs consumers money – particularly in the world of cybercrime.

According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), consumers lost a total of $525.4 million in 2012 due to cybercrime. The center, which is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, received nearly 290,000 complaints during the year. Losses were reported in roughly 40 percent – or nearly 115,000 – of those cases. The median dollar loss for those consumers who reported a loss was $600.

Some 82 percent of the victims in the complaints were between the ages of 20-59. The states with the heaviest amount of complaints were California (13.41 percent), Florida (7.9 percent) and Texas (7.22 percent). The crimes at the center of the complaints run the gamut, from malware attacks to scams involving the online sale of vehicles. In fact, more than 17,000 of the complaints involved fraud tied to the sale of vehicles on the Web. Recently, criminals have been observed to be presenting themselves as dealers as opposed to just individual sellers. The damage was roughly $64.5 million.

Other common Internet scams target the lovelorn.

“A perpetrator scouts the Internet for victims, often finding them in chat rooms, on dating sites and even within social media networks,” according to the IC3 report. “These individuals seduce victims with small gifts, poetry, claims of common interest or the promise of constant companionship. Once the scammers gain the trust of their victims, they request money, ask victims to receive packages and reship them overseas or seek other favors.

These types of scams cost consumers nearly $56 million. But there are of course other kinds of threats consumers can face when they get online. Scareware and malware attacks also took their toll on consumers’ pocketbooks, though the damage was less severe. According to IC3, 1,969 of the complaints had to do with ransomware or scareware, for a total loss of $134,899.

“In 2012, the IC3 processed 289,874 complaints, representing more than a half-billion dollars in losses,” according to the IC3 report. “In accordance with its mission, the IC3 referred complaints to state, local, federal, tribal and international law enforcement agencies. The IC3’s support led to numerous investigations that resulted in arrests, seizures, convictions and restitution, among other actions. The IC3 also produced monthly trend analysis reports, 23 public service announcements, scam alerts, and other publications to alert law enforcement and the general public about the pervasiveness of online crime.”

The report can be read in its entirety here.

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